Jennica LiGraduate Student

I am broadly interested in how childhood media affects social-emotional development in neurodivergent children. More specifically, I am interested in how media depictions of neurodivergence and parasocial attachments to characters may impact early identity formation and self-perception. I would like to explore how parents of neurodivergent children perceive and select media and aims to also amplify the perspectives of self-advocates in my work. I hope to use my research to inform families on how to select and incorporate children’s media that promote healthy, positive imagery of neurodivergence. My other interests include how different aspects of media — such as use of animation, fantastical narratives, and virtual worlds — can promote engagement, imagination, and sense of belonging.

I received my BS in developmental psychology with a minor in linguistics from the University of California, San Diego. During my time there, I interned at the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence. As a clinical assistant, I worked with research psychologists on early risk and diagnostic assessments for autism spectrum disorders. I also volunteered at the university’s Language Production Lab, where I assisted on a computer-based artificial language learning study.

I am passionate about creating or utilizing platforms that provide equitable access to educational resources. As an undergraduate student, I served on the board of UC San Diego’s branch of EducationCorps, a nonprofit organization focused on providing educational support to K-12 students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. After graduating, I spent just under three years as research coordinator at the UC Davis MIND Institute. While there, I was involved in several studies focused on the dissemination and implementation of resources for autism within local communities.

I have worked as a teaching assistant for HDFS362: Development of the Young Child.

Professional portrait of Jennica Li in front of a decorative window with bright colored glass circles and curved lines.


  • Human Development & Family Studies

Degree Program

  • PhD Human Ecology: Human Development & Family Studies


  • BS, Developmental Psychology with a minor in Linguistics, University of California, San Diego